13:15 - Professor Bennison's Life of Pi

13:15 - Professor Bennison's Life of Pi

Postby James Bennison » 03 Sep 2014, 11:37

I came in halfway through the run on the 14th so I had some prewarning that the venue turned out to be a gazebo. Whilst initially apprehensive I found it to be actually quite welcoming, creating a lovely atmosphere with the audience. I took down the last few rows of chairs until the front 5 rows were full before putting the rest out which seemed to work. I saw some shows there where the front four rows were empty and the back four rows were rammed.
Because it was on the patio outside the bar there were a lot of people who walked past to cut from Cowgate to South Bridge so there was sometimes a bit of noise pollution but this didn’t really get in the way of the show.
My show had a bit of music and singing in and once or twice we had someone from The Mash House come over and complain. He was quite a rude man and tried to interrupt the show (as the only sound controls were on stage with me) but luckily a friend of mine talked him down calmly. C Venues on the other side sometimes got noise going in there but they were much more reasonable and I made sure to manage sound levels a bit more effectively.
There was amazing amounts of storage in the form of a room which hadn’t been fitted yet so I left a lot of my things in there. The only problem with that was that you had to get a key from the staff to open the door and then drop it off afterwards. This was fine until one day when someone had taken the key and no one could find him but the manager came and opened the door for me (alas this was 10 minutes before my show started so I had a full blown panic up until then). Also the floor wasn’t finished so most of my clothes were coated with white brick powder making me look like a ghost.

The staff were amazingly helpful and friendly throughout and made it an absolute joy to hang around afterwards. The bar was incredibly cheap for Edinburgh also so the audiences were very happy. My mother came three days in a row and she is mostly blind and the staff were amazing in looking after and bringing her a constant flow of Gin and Tonics.

The venue was quite hard to find due to being down a dark alley on south bridge or up a staircase from Cowgate and had a few people struggle to find the place. This was made harder due to us not being allowed to put any posters up so all people had was an A4 sign which on the whole was ok but I had quite a few people come in late to my show due to being lost.

The first few days I had around 15-20 people but after the first weekend I ended up packing out the gazebo (40-50 people). The last week I alternated between half full and packed out but I think this came from being on at 1.15pm and also having a themed show to do with mathematics as this made it very easy to promote.

Audiences were incredibly generous. The quietest day I got about £20 and the busy days I was getting around £110. Overall, on the last week I averaged around £60-£80 a show which was more than enough to live off (and even made a bit of a profit).

I was the second show so venue captain Rich had set everything up beforehand (an absolute legend!) and my tech was simply a microphone and some music. A friend of mine had a receiver so I could plug that in at the front on the stage but he could operate the sound from an iPod at the back of the room. This worked about 80% of the time but I think the 20% when it didn’t was due to the device being 5 years old rather than the tech provided by PBH.
One of the mic stands was mysteriously damaged during the run and the one that was left would spin randomly but it worked just fine for my purposes.
The only problem I had was finding something to rest a portfolio I had with slides in. I ended up using a chair with a spare speaker on top of it which kind of worked though most of my shows then descended into chaos when it kept falling off. This added to the comedy though so I wasn’t too heartbroken.

All in all I had a really amazing fringe and am so grateful for the venue and time slot! Richard, despite his protestations was an amazing venue captain and helped me out on more than one occasion.

Thanks PBH!
James Bennison
Posts: 4
Joined: September 2014

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